The blurb: Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…
With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.
I want to stress that I’ve given this book 3 stars – which for me is a “good” rating – because overall it was enjoyable. What follows may sound like I’ve listed everything I didn’t like about it, so I want to start by saying I’m not trying to put you off and I’m sure there will be many readers who will love this story!
The best thing about the book is the premise: the idea of someone whose mission is to recover abandoned items, catalogue and care for them with the eventual purpose of returning them to their owners. In fact, I’d be interested in reading a book that was all about these lost objects, how they were lost and how they are reunited with their owners.
However, while I thought the two plot strands the book juggles were interwoven and balanced well, I didn’t care so much for the occasional interjection of the short stories about one of the recovered items. I could see how these stories were supposed to tie in with the main plots, but I thought they were a distraction. I don’t think this was helped by reading on an e-reader. I can imagine that these stories are better separated out from the main plots in the printed edition of this book, but I didn’t feel the use of cursive as the only thing differentiating them when reading on the screen was enough.
And perhaps that distraction is what prevented me from connecting with any of the characters enough to really care what happened to any of them.
That said, hats off the to author for keeping the plots running in parallel and bringing everything together in a neat bow at the end. I can imagine the effort that went in to keeping it all straight.
Finally, I could have done without the supernatural elements of the plot, which became increasingly important as the story went on and made me start to lose patience. Putting all ghostly influences to one side, the story asks us to suspend out disbelief and accept a pretty incredible string of coincidences to tie the two main plots together, so to then ask us to factor in spiritual interference and a character with apparent clairvoyant abilities… I felt it was all too much.
Overall: A pleasant read, but I felt less focus on complex plotting and ghostly shenanigans and more on the characters would have helped this terrific idea to have greater impact.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul